Adrian Delia Has Been PN Leader For 100 Days And Here’s 11 Things He's Done So Far
Mingling with laypeople as often as possible but slipping badly in the polls...
It was a hundred days ago now that the Nationalist Party elected Adrian Delia as its new leader - back then a complete outsider who pledged to topple the tired party establishment and inject a new breath of life into the party. Now that the new leader has started to find his feet and turn words into action, we look back at what he has done up until his first milestone.
1. Changing the PN’s ‘party of lawyers’ image
Under Simon Busuttil, eight out of the PN’s top nine administrative positions were all occupied by lawyers, lending credence to the long-held view that lawyers rule the roost at the PN. However, Adrian Delia’s team only includes two lawyers - himself and Roselyn Borg Knight. The others are an engineer, a sociologist, an economist, a banker, a businessman, an EU consultant and a manager - a pretty diverse mix which the PN would hope helps broaden its horizons.
Delia’s team is also particularly young - executive president Mark Anthony Sammut, general council president Kristy Debono, administrative council president David Stellini, and international secretary Roselyn Borg Knight are all 40 years old or younger.
2. A more socially conservative PN
In his first speech as leader, Delia made it abundantly clear where he stands on moral issues - describing the liberalisation of drug laws and regulation of prostitution and surrogacy as “non-Maltese values” and accusing Joseph Muscat of turning Malta into a “soulless state”.
However, he has promised to give his MPs a free vote on moral issues, meaning it is unclear what policies the PN itself will adopt when confronted with these issues in the near future.
3. A disastrous debut in the House
Delia’s only major policy move so far has been to come out against a legal notice which granted vacation leave to lesbian couples seeking IVF treatment abroad. Delia kept insisting that his opposition was based solely on a legality and not out of prejudice against lesbians, and yet six of his own MPs - as well as the two Partit Demokratiku MPs - broke ranks and abstained from the vote, citing moral concerns. This was Delia’s first ever parliamentary motion and he lost a third of his parliamentary group over it…an unmitigated disaster.
4. Flagging security concerns in Marsa
One of the most enduring images of Delia’s time as PN leader so far must be the one of him ringing the doorbell of the Marsa police station, a PR stunt to highlight how it had been left empty on a Sunday afternoon. A few weeks later, the government announced the Marsa police station will be kept staffed 24/7 and that soldiers will patrol the town’s streets so as to allay residents’ security concerns.
5. Mingling with Maltese laypeople
Delia seems intent on delivering on his promise to change the PN’s image from that of a ‘stuck-up’ party into one of a party which is down with laypeople. The PN leader starts his day by having a coffee at a PN kazin, each day in a different town, and while there pays visits to public cafeterias, band clubs, football clubs, even Labour Party clubs. As promised, he has also started reaching out to individual ex-PN party members and has started including PN sectional committees in policy making - by occasionally sending them out themes for discussion and feedback.
Behind the scenes, Delia has also been working to bringing more party members (tesserati) into the PN fold. A record 3,100 people signed up to the PN in the past year, including 900 in the last two months and a half since Delia's election as leader.
6. Demanding Joseph Muscat resign
Adrian Delia’s first meeting with Joseph Muscat was an extremely friendly one, with both leaders expressing their wishes to work more closely with each other. However, all cordiality was instantly forgotten following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Delia’s instant reaction to the murder that shook the country was to demand Joseph Muscat’s resignation on the grounds that the murder took place under his watch as Prime Minister.
However, while Delia kept on demanding the resignations of the police commissioner and the Attorney General, his call for the Prime Minister’s head was never repeated and his snap reaction is starting to seem like a strategic mishap.
7. Demanding minister’s resignation over email to police officer
Former police inspector Jonathan Ferris
When former police inspector Jonathan Ferris told Lovin Malta that he had received an email from the office of then home affairs minister Carmelo Abela requesting an update into an investigation, Delia’s response was immediate - to demand Abela’s resignation.
The PN leader repeated his call the following day but shelved the case as soon as Abela published the email correspondence.
8. Staying away from ‘rule of law’ protests
Although he has repeatedly accused the Labour government of allowing the state of the rule of law in Malta to deteriorate, Delia and his team have been conspicuous by their absence from a series of protests and actions related to the rule of law which activists have organised in the wake of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
He has said his past feud with Caruana Galizia would render him unwelcome at these protests, but his absence has opened himself up to criticism that his stance against corruption and in favour of bolstering Malta’s institutions is only skin-deep.
9. Standing by MP over fake medical certificate reports
Shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri
Delia brushed off evidence published by Lovin Malta that shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri was selling medical certificates without even seeing patients beforehand. The PN leader merely said that he was accepting Spiteri’s denial that he had never sold medical certificates and refused to take any action against his MP.
10. Flopping extremely badly in the polls
Despite his efforts, something is just not working out for Adrian Delia and the most recent surveys have placed the gap between PL and PN at 75,000 votes, which is almost double the already-significant gap between the two parties at the last election. It is still early days, but Delia desperately needs to find and address the root of the problem before it is too late.
11. Fundraising telethon ‘victory’ over Labour
The PN has been in the doldrums for so long that the fact it managed to earn more donations than Labour during last night’s annual telethon seemed pretty significant. Despite the doom and gloom prophecies that have been surrounding the party since the recent surveys, the PN collected a record €620,319 last night - up from the €511,767 it had collected last Christmas.
Are things looking up?